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Copyright Nick Morgan and crew

Concert Review by Dave Broom
Half Moon, Putney, London, 27th August 2005 
by Nick Morgan
We decided to give the Hamsters another try. You may remember they are “The Uk’s best rock and Blues band (probably)” but failed to impress greatly in the rain at Cropredy. They also claim to have been “Voted the UK's best blues-rock band, and the leading interpreters of the music of Jimi Hendrix and ZZ Top!”. Well tonight they are in ZZ Top and Hendrix mode at the delightful Half Moon in Putney.
It’s a friendly, crowded, sweaty, small room at the back of a traditional pub that serves traditional warm beer – if you’re ever in London I seriously recommend a visit. My son’s in town, and as he’s recently gone through a charming and very pleasing transition from something called ‘Nu Metal’ (yes – no Rammstein in the car on the way to our B&B hell in Wales later today) to a diverse range of the new (the Magic Numbers seem to be a current favourite) and the old (“Hey dad, did you ever hear of a band called Deep Purple?”). So in the spirit of furthering his education we’re here for the Hamsters part two.
Perhaps not surprisingly what didn’t work in a huge field goes down much better in a confined space. And I learn that the Hamsters take their role as ‘interpreters’ quite seriously – so this isn’t a tribute band pastiche or parody, it’s respectful, soulful and from the heart. And I’m reminded of the phrase that went something like ‘those who can do, those who can’t, teach’ – because the Hamster’s own material really is pretty weak – and as far as I can tell we’re spared most of it tonight. But maybe it’s a good thing that someone’s around to occasionally remind us what this great stuff ‘might have’ (that lazy historian’s stand-by when facts are short) sounded like in the flesh.
We get loads of ZZ Top – a band about whom I know almost nothing, apart from the beards and the girl in the impossibly tight hotpants. But some of their tunes seem decent enough, and I learn that they wrote ‘TV dinners’, performed nicely by the late Robert Palmer on his last very good album Drive.
I’m in much safer territory on Hendrix, ‘Fire’, ‘Hey Joe’, ‘Purple haze’, ‘Isabella’, ‘The wind cries for Mary’, ‘Foxy lady’, ‘Voodoo child’ (or is it ‘chile’?) et. al. My son is transfixed, and I’m slightly worried that he’s trying to do that Northern European ‘remembering the riffs’ thing – but then he’s not the only bloke in the audience with that look on his face. The Hamsters give it all they’ve got, and bewilderingly all leave the stage during the last (ZZ Top) number and return from the audience playing each other’s instruments. Apparently this is called ‘Entertainment’ – the audience love it.
So everyone leaves feeling pretty good about themselves, and in a week when there’s been a typical amount of nonsense talked in the Press about the state of education in the country today etc. (well, it’s August and there isn’t much else going on, apart from the cricket that is) I’m left pondering a crucial gap in today’s curriculum. Shouldn’t there be a compulsory course in pub-back-room rhythm and blues?
A note on photography: The Photographer had to pull out of the gig at the last minute, ‘though enjoyed the Hendrix highlights via the Nokia. So I was left with the camera, standing behind a German photographer (apparently the Hamsters are big in Germany) who I was trying to copy. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it. - Nick Morgan (photos by Nick)

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